For nearly three years Christina of Creating my own garden of the Hesperides has been hosting the meme which focuses on foliage in the garden. I believe her intention was to explore the important role which foliage plays in the garden, and remind everyone that although flowers often steal the stage, foliage remains to carry the show. Going out this week with the intention of focusing on foliage surprised me in two ways. First of all I always assumed I was one of those “immature” gardeners who always falls for the flash of flowers and doesn’t have much foliage interest. That was wrong…. apparently nearly all flowers come with some kind of foliage (who knew!) and even the most flower blinded gardener will have foliage. Secondly I learned another important revelation…. my garden looks much, much better in close-ups!
I’ve grown Artemisia “Powis Castle” before, but never here in Pennsylvania. It was planted this spring and I love the gray foliage mixed with all the other stuff that seeded in with the compost. (fennel, nicotina, Echinacea, snow on the mountain)
Starting with A and Artemisia is as good place as any, and while we’re here I guess we’ll just keep going along the front street border. Soil improvement this spring and moving things around brought in plenty of seed-laced compost, and “Hopi Red Dye” amaranthus is easy to spot with its dark red leaves.
Amaranthus “Hopi Red Dye”, as easy to grow as its more weedy relatives.
I like purple leaves, but I don’t think I can resist a plant with yellow foliage, and this “Golden Sunshine” willow was an impulse buy last year. Rabbits mowed it down last winter but willows don’t sulk and this one bounced right back. Actually I think cutting this one back to the ground each spring would probably be the best way to keep the bright new foliage coming.
Salix “Golden Sunshine”… or at least I think that’s what this willow goes by. I really need to have a better recording system for my plant IDs.
If pushed I might even admit to having too much yellow foliage around the yard.
Arundo donax “variegata” in the front perennial border. An explosion of color with “Black Knight” buddleia, pink agastache, and yellow fennel blossoms. Btw, the arundo is probably 8 feet tall and the butterfly bush 6. Also it’s unusual for the grass to have this much color so late in the summer. Usually the heat makes it go all green.
Here’s a little blue in the blue spruce I moved last spring…. and more yellow.
Have I ever mentioned my love for the foliage of “Tiger Eyes” sumac? It suckers around a bit, but in my mess of a garden that’s no big deal. I haven’t yet decided if this is a formal enough planting for the front of the house though.
A foliage post without mentioning a cyclamen is just crazy, so here’s my little c. purpurascens plant (probably two or three plants since I see at least two leaf forms).
Good things come in little packages, this cyclamen purpurascens is a baby at only maybe 5 inches across but it might be my favorite cyclamen right now…. I’m sure that will change as others appear 🙂
I took a lot of pictures so this may be all over the place, but I’ll try to finish up the front yard first. Sometimes people think of hosta when they hear the word foliage, and I’ve seen them in a few gardens here and there (just a few!). Here’s “August Moon” a favorite old variety which lightens to nearly white when in full sun.
Hosta “August Moon” in one of my few shady areas.
Moving into the back near the (another yellow) sunflowers is the new heuchera patch. Someday you’ll suffer through an all out heuchera post, but until they grow in a bit I’ll let you off with just one.
One of several new heuchera plants, heuchera “Circus Clown” is off to a good start with a nice mulch and some much needed rain. It’s amazing how the colors on these plants change throughout the year.
The reason the heuchera can survive here is from the shade of a Seven Sons shrub/tree (heptacodium miconioides). My plant gets cankers and loses trunks every now and then but I hope it someday gets past that. Right now I’m enjoying the rich green of the curled stiff leaves. Kind of a coarse look, but for a guy with so many cannas and dahlias refinement isn’t one of my strong points.
Heptacodium miconioides leaves against a perfectly clear blue sky.
Enough with the babbling. Look but don’t touch.
Ptilostemon diacantha with verbena bonariensis blossoms. Of course this is where all the missed baseballs end up rolling.
Almost good enough to eat, plants in the vegetable garden (or potager when I’m feeling fancy) also can put on a good show.
Red cabbage and fig leaves, the fig would be happier in Christina’s Mediterranean garden but it hangs on here and the perfectly cut leaves make up for not getting any actual figs 🙂
Not all the foliage news is good. Miscanthus giganteus was off to a good start but our dry spell threw it for a loop and killed off all the lower leaves.
Miscanthus giganteus wants the steady moisture which I’m too frugal to supply. It might be easier to get something else for this spot.
Back by the house is a panicum “Cloud Nine” which is much more comfortable with drought. I hate this bed and constantly neglect it, but nature did its own thing and filled the gaps with rudbeckia, phlox, and patrina scabiosifolia seedlings. Sure beats the boring mulch I had there before.
The stepchild bed with Patrina, panicum, rudbeckia, and phlox.
So much for anything that even approaches subtlety. My tropicals come next, and first off are the geraniums (pelargoniums) which in my delusion and denial I have added to the overwinter and collect list.
I have to dig up the name for this one, it’s in its second or third year with me and keeps looking better.
A scented leaved geranium (pelargonium actually) with cut leaves, variegation and scent. Too much or something for everyone?
This scented geranium is another plant who’s ID is lost in the pot-full-o-tags database. I should probably work on that.
Another one to overwinter in the garage, my first aeonium is looking well. Hopefully it can handle the high-water location I planted it in -a pot with a variegated hebe and cape fuschia (phygelia).
This one’s label must still be near the top of the tag bucket since it’s a new purchase. A good gardener would go out there, find it and label it…. but all I’ve got for you is it’s not “Schwarzkopf”.
Now to wrap things up (so I can finally get to work on the stupid basement tiling job I started) here are my foliage stars.
Canna “Tropicana” might be the most obscene show of gaudy color in my garden. I love it with the dahlias and rudbeckia. Good thing there’s some green nearby to calm things down.
Morning light on the sunflower patch.
My ‘Polish cannas’ were a gift which traces it’s history back to a friend’s old Polish neighbor. It’s probably really canna indica “purpurea” or “Russian red”.
And same cannas at noon. A sculptural plant I think.
The small blooms aren’t much for a flower lover, but they have a graceful look and the hummingbirds appreciate them.
So that’s my foliage, thanks for sticking it out. I did manage to keep all the coleus out (but of course there’s still all of September for that) and I hope that gave a little relief, but I was really surprised by how much color and interest I get from foliage. Maybe I am growing up and my tastes are maturing…. but I hope not. I like my messes of color too much!
Thanks Christina for hosting and thanks for opening my eyes to all that foliage does in the garden.